Meeting with Summers ’67 Sparks Ea ’12 Trip to Cambodia

Sally Ea ’12, a social work major from Maplewood, Minn., and her father, Houkling Ea, toured the ancient temple Angkor Wat during a nearly month-long trip to Cambodia last summer. It was Ea’s first trip to the Asian nation—and her father’s first return trip since immigrating to the United States from Cambodia 30 years ago.

“I was overjoyed to finally meet my dad’s family—cousins, nieces, and nephews I never knew he had—and to see my culture firsthand,” she says. “I also got to see the towns where both my parents grew up.”

Ea and her family had discussed visiting Cambodia for some time, but it was a conversation she had on campus with Sense of Vocation program visitor Eileen Summers ’67 last April that inspired Ea and her father to finally book the trip.

“When Eileen came to campus last spring, I was surprised to learn that she had spent such a significant amount of time working in Cambodia,” says Ea, who met Summers for coffee while she was on campus. “I told her about my goal of working in international social services, and Eileen shared with me her story and how she landed in Cambodia.” Summers put Ea in contact with a colleague—Ellen Minotti, director of Social Services of Cambodia. “We were able to meet while I was in Cambodia and talk about the work of the agency and my future goals,” says Ea.

L to R: Houkling Ea with daughter Sally Ea '12